My Ragan shuts down Social Media Club Group: The danger of closed communities

Word from Chris Heuer that Mark Ragan has shut down the Social Media Club group in My Ragan and replaced it with the lame-sounding “Social Media Tools and Strategies” group, started by … Mark Ragan.

Chris says,

I have setup Social Media Club groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning and many other social networking sites, so that members who use those services can come together to further the goals of the club. Mark invited me to create a group on his “myspace” clone a few weeks ago, and even invited me to promote our Workshop through it.

Since becoming the largest group on MyRagan, Mark has apparently changed his mind, because the group (and my profile) was represented by the Social Media Club logo. His post to the group (which he deleted after my response to this message) read:

“We are recreating the Social Media Club tomorrow and re-naming it to read simply: Social Media Tools and Strategies.

The current logo for the club is giving the impression that we are somehow selling this space to an advertiser. We are not. These groups are designed as non-commercial places where free discussion can flow without fear of being pitched. …”

This doesn’t sound good to me. I’ve followed Chris’ efforts to establish Social Media Clubs across the continent. And yes, he is always pitching his concept for a collective effort that will share social media best practices and knowledge. I don’t find anything wrong with that. He is enthusiastic about the potential for social media to transform communications and connect communities of interest. In my mind, his zeal is a positive thing. And I would expect that anyone who really “gets” social media, would applaud his efforts.

But I want to hear Mark Ragan’s side. So, I posted the following message in the Social Media Tools and Strategies group:

Hello Mark,

What happened to the Social Media Club group? I saw Chris Heuer’s post at Social Media Club No Longer Welcomed at My Ragan. Is it true? Did you shut the group down? If so, why?

Social media is propelled by a desire to share and a spirit of generosity. I recognize that My Ragan is YOUR Ragan. It’s YOUR space and YOU can do what you want with it. But having said that, if you in fact act in this way, you will be sending a message that you do not share the basic tenets of social media and that you are in fact motivated primarily, if not exclusively, by a desire to use social media to capture an audience for Ragan and sell.

Yes, you can sell. But only if you build trust. And shutting down the Social Media Club group does not build trust. It erodes it.

I’d welcome a response to this post.

I hope that Mark Ragan will respond to me either in My Ragan or here on ProPR.

Get more out of your Web Browser

FirefoxFirefox and IE7 are the first applications I open when I turn on my computer every morning. And they are the last applications I close when shutting down at the end of the day. I use them far more than any other software on my computer.

Yet, like most people, I didn’t read any help files for these applications. I relied on intuition and trial and error to learn how to use them.

So I’m pretty jazzed that Lorelle VanFossen is publishing a series of posts that will provide a Web Browser Guide for Bloggers. She’s providing detailed advice for both of the two most widely used browsers, IE7 and Firefox. So, this series should be helpful to almost anybody who uses a browser (that means all of us.) Her second post this morning provides a good overview of the parts of the browser, including a number of useful tips for using them more effectively. For example, thanks to Lorelle, I now know a number of keyboard shortcuts for frequently repeated commands. No need to move my hand from the keyboard to the mouse.

Internet ExplorerSo, if you are like me and spend a good part of your day using your browser, do yourself a favour and follow Lorelle’s Web browser series.

And if you use WordPress for your blog, take a look at Lorelle on WordPress, where Lorelle provides intelligent and clear advice for WordPress users. I highly recommend it.

(Oh, and you were probably wondering why I have two browsers open all day. I use Firefox as my default browser. But I need IE7 for a custom time recording application that 76design optimized for IE7.)

Admission is free to Pre-mesh Third Tuesday

Third TuesdayI’ve received a few emails in response to my post about the pre-mesh Third Tuesday featuring the founders of mesh – Mark Evans, Mathew Ingram, Mike McDerment, Rob Hyndman, and Stuart MacDonald. These emails have asked whether the registration for Third Tuesday is included in the cost of the mesh conference ticket or if it is extra.

I guess my post wasn’t clear on the cost of attending Third Tuesday.
So, here’s the good news. Admission to Third Tuesday is free. All you have to pay for is what you eat and drink.

MeshCNW Group is sponsoring the cost of renting the room and sound system for this night. Beyond that, everything else is put together by volunteers.

So, come on out and participate in the discussion with the mesh founders. You’ll have a great time. You can register online if you plan to attend. And the price is right!

Loyalist launches PR education Blog

Dive in! The water's fine...A hat tip to Kerry Ramsay on the launch of the Loyalist PR Blog.

As full-time professor for the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario, I am forever trying to keep up with my students and their various high-tech forays (yes, even Facebook!). So here it goes, everyone!

My hope is that my students (past and present) and other PR enthusiasts will visit to share their thoughts and ideas about this ever-changing field.

In my view, social media provides vast new opportunities for public relations practitioners who understand that their best future lies in connecting organizations and companies with their communities. Hopefully, Kerry’s blog will encourage her students to explore all aspects of social media.

I hope that all PR practitioners who see this post will click over to the Loyalist PR Blog, subscribe to it and contribute through comments on Kerry’s posts.

Meet the founders of mesh at Third Tuesday

MeshIn the last year, Toronto has emerged as a social media hot spot. Last May, the mesh conference played a significant role in this by bringing the community together in an event that featured A list speakers and participants from across North America.

This year’s mesh conference kicks off on May 30. And we’ll have a special mesh-eve Third Tuesday on May 29 with the founders of mesh – Mark Evans, Mathew Ingram, Mike McDerment, Rob Hyndman, and Stuart MacDonald – as our special guests.

They’ll talk about about the developments they’ve seen in the social media scene since the first mesh conference and then we’ll have a chance to engage in a discussion with them about what the future may bring.

Third TuesdayThanks to CNW, who agreed to sponsor this special Third Tuesday, We were able to book [email protected] for the evening. It’s a much bigger venue than we’ve used before. But we’re expecting that many of the mesh speakers and participants will join us for the evening.

If you’re in Toronto on May 29, come out to what promises to be a great kick off party to the mesh conference. Meet the speakers and mix with the attendees. And let’s celebrate social media in Toronto.

Register at the Third Tuesday meetup site if you plan to attend.

Dell's Chief Blogger Lionel Menchaca will speak at Third Monday

Exciting news for social media types in Canada: Dell’s Lionel Menchaca is making a swing through Ontario. On May 28, he will be the featured speaker at this month’s Third Monday social media meetup in Ottawa. Lionel MenchacaThe following day, he will be attending Third Tuesday in Toronto and then participating in a panel at the mesh conference.

Lionel Menchaca has been at the heart of Dell’s social media program. A 14-year Dell veteran, Lionel is the main blogger behind Direct2Dell. Beyond the blog, he works to coordinate Dell’s digital media activities. He says that, “These initiatives all have one thing in common: to provide Dell’s customers a way to interact or communicate feedback to the company.”

In my view, Dell stands out as a company that has learned how to engage with its community through social media. Last year, the company was delivered a double whammy of online videos showing Dell notebook computers going up in flames followed by Jeff Jarvis‘ now famous proclamation that he was in Dell Hell.

Third MondayThe company took its lumps. But it also learned from its experiences.

Since that time, Dell has launched a series of social media initiatives, including its Direct2Dell blog and Dell Ideastorm. It has demonstrated how a company’s relationship with its community can go from antagonistic to positive by using social media to personalize itself, to share its thinking and to solicit feedback. And most recently, through its embrace of community feedback regarding Linux on Dell computers, it has demonstrated that it can win back fans.

Third Monday-ers will have a chance to hear Lionel talk about how Dell has embraced social media and engaged its community.

Richard BinhammerAnd there’s a Canadian connection in Dell’s social media program. Richard Binhammer, who once worked on Parliament Hill during the Mulroney years and subsequently joined Dell’s PR agency and then Dell itself, has been a key member of the Dell blogger outreach program. Richard will be joining Lionel on his Canadian swing. We’ll be counting on Richard to add his first hand perspective on blogger relations.

If you’re interested in a great evening of intelligent discussion with others who are testing the potential of social media, register to attend this session at the Third Monday meetup site.

Charles Fremes

Charles FremesI received word today that Charles Fremes passed away.

I first met him when I worked at Hill and Knowlton in the mid eighties and Charles was the CEO of the Decima Quarterly Report on Canadian public opinion trends. Our offices were a couple doors apart. We both worked long hours and we shared quite a few meals together.

Charles was a person of great generosity. He shared what he knew and was always keen to help both novices and the more experienced whenever he could. I remember he had a wicked sense of humour. One of the quickest wits I have encountered. With a memorable laugh that could be heard down the hall and would bring people together.

He left Hill and Knowlton to take a senior marketing position at Molson Brewery. Most recently, he headed up Edelman in Canada. Thanks to Charles, they grew and developed a reputation as a top shop.

I have seen Charles only infrequently in the past few years. Still, I have always regarded him as a friend and admired his considerable achievements.

Charles’ passing is a profound loss for the Canadian public relations community. Charles, you will be missed.

UPDATE: Richard Edelman has published a personal tribute to Charles. Another personal recollection has been posted by Marion MacKenzie.